Following the New York Rangers’ demise in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, Rick Nash is the most popular scapegoat as to why the team fell short. Nash had been criticized frequently throughout New York’s two-month playoff run that ended in heartbreak.
It wasn’t a lack of effort from Nash, but fans in New York didn’t care about effort as much as they cared about production on the scoreboard. Nash failed to deliver and was noticeably frustrated as the playoffs progressed, but his postseason in a nutshell could be described in one critical play.
In double overtime of the final game against the Los Angeles Kings, Nash received a golden opportunity to silence all the doubters. Nash got a pass near the bottom of the right circle and had an entire open net to work with. It seemed there was no way Nash would miss the chance, but his shot caught the stick of Kings defenseman Slava Voynov and deflected wide. The Kings eventually got the OT winner and are now 2014 Stanley Cup Champions.
Nash couldn’t believe he missed; he was looking to the sky and shaking his head as if to ask “what else do I need to do to get a big goal?” The goal would have extended the series to a sixth game in New York, and the Rangers would have gotten a chance to draw even with the Kings.
The missed opportunity pretty much sums up Nash’s postseason. After leading the Rangers in goals in the regular season, Nash scored just three times in 25 playoff games. Nobody on the Rangers could have used that OT winner more than Nash, who still owns the reputation of being a great player that stinks in the playoffs. Nash may have quietly played some great defense, but he was brought to New York for a single reason, and defense wasn’t it.
Nash recorded a whopping 83 shots on goal in the playoffs and played sound defensively, but everything he did well was largely overshadowed by his lack of goals. Nash would be the first to say he didn’t play well enough, and he needs to use this experience as motivation for next season.
The Rangers could be a very different team next year with many important players about to become free agents. Nash may have a chance to step into a leadership role depending on the departures from the team. As for right now, Nash and the Rangers are still recovering from their disappointing defeat in the Cup Final.